Thanks to years of steady hype from the Zanzibar tourist industry, Tanzania recently elevated the status of the modest Jozani Forest to the level of a national park, joining it with the adjacent estuary to the north. The main attraction of this swamp-forest habitat is the endemic Kirk’s Red Colobus, a striking monkey whose world population stands at about 2,500. Most visitors to Zanzibar typically arrange a short stop at the park on their way to the island’s western beaches to see the much-promoted monkey, a group of which have been habituated and are easily seen from the road that passes along the park’s southern border. The park also boasts a network of nature trails that visitors are free to explore, as well as a short boardwalk that passes through mangrove habitat, located a kilometer south of the main entrance along a dirt road.
After considerable expectation, Aimee and I finally visited at the end of our stay on Zanzibar, hoping to encounter the endemic race of Fischer’s Turaco among other coastal east African birds. Arriving around eight in the morning, we first birded the mangroves, hoping to catch the end of the early morning bird activity in this homogeneous habitat. After marveling over a male African Paradise Flycatcher, but finding not much else, we crossed the tarmac road and entered the forest, which first appeared to be little more than a red mahogany farm. Eventually, we entered more authentic looking swamp forest, but bird activity was low, except for a few pairs of chatty Dark-Backed Weavers. Within an hour or so my injured knee grew uncomfortably stiff, and we decided to cut short our visit and return to the coast, having seen a small fraction of the avifauna that the park purportedly offers.
Notable birds seen: Mangrove Kingfisher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Blue-Mantled Crested Flycatcher, Forest Batis, Dark-Backed Weaver.